Prof. Sarna's work as the first ever "Building Bridges" scholar-in-residence served as a watershed with regard to the National Library's American Jewry Collection, as well as its relations with the American Jewish community. Prof. Sarna's report included invaluable recommendations for enhancing the collection as well as specific suggestions for collaboration with leading institutions in the United States. According to Dr. Yoel Finkelman, NLI Chaim & Chana Salomon Judaica Collection Curator, "Sarna's intimate familiarity with other bodies, large and small, that hold important collections of American Judaica helped to guide the Library towards future cooperation in digitization and making materials available as widely as possible."
The Library also presented three special events during Prof. Sarna's stay to promote understanding, research and dialogue about American Jewry. One evening entitled "Surviving or Thriving? The Past and Future of American Jews", featured a lecture by Prof. Sarna on his most recent book, co-written with Benjamin Shapell, "Lincoln and the Jews", as well as a panel entitled "American Jews Face the Challenges Ahead" with leading figures from academia and the Jewish world. Prof. Sarna's time at the Library garnered significant press exposure including two prime time interviews on major Israeli television networks, in addition to feature articles in "The Jerusalem Post" and "Makor Rishon", a popular Hebrew-language weekend publication.
The "Building Bridges" scholar-in-residence program is just one of many recent and on-going initiatives through which the National Library continues to fulfill its mandate as the national library for the Jewish people in Israel and across the globe.